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This is the kind of story that Canadians love: A U.S. cop went for a walk in a park in Canada, was approached by two gentlemen asking whether he had been to the stampede yet, and felt unsafe because he did not have his gun.

Nose Hill Park in Calgary

Nose Hill Park in Calgary

The original letter is pretty funny. Wawra’s account does not make it sound like a particularly intimidating encounter. The men repeated themselves twice and then moved on looking “bewildered” when Wawra met their inquiry with a rude┬ádismissal. Yet this was enough to make Wawra believe he was unsafe and needed a gun, since police cannot protect people all of the time. (As it turned out, the two were attempting to offer free tickets to the tourists, according to Gawker.com).

Canadians love this kind of story because it allows them to feel superior to their fearful and gun-loving neighbours to the south. Canadians want to mock this kind of story because it is unlikely that we would have felt threatened in a similar circumstance because we would have taken it for small-talk, or a typical greeting Calgarians might give one another when Stampede is on.

But that kind of fear is real among some Americans. I have several cousins who have told me that they don’t feel safe visiting me in Canada because they cannot bring their guns. My cousin from Detroit told me that he felt unsafe going to a bar in Toronto because in Detroit no one will mess with you because they assume you are carrying, while in Toronto he could not see what would keep someone from starting a fight. (Although the Crime rate in Toronto is actually much lower than the crime rate in Detroit) It doesn’t occur to my cousin that people in Toronto often won’t start a fight just because they have no interest in starting a fight and aren’t out to get each other.

My American cousins often tell me that guns make them feel “safe,” but from this side of the border it seems to me that guns actually just make them fearful.

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